So goes the East Bay, so goes the country

Full disclosure–I wrote this, instead of my semi weekly blog post. And if you have an Indivisible chapter near you, it’s a great way to get involved in the movement against the Trump administration.

Indivisible East Bay

I wasn’t an activist when I arrived at Barbara Lee’s town hall meeting last Saturday. I’d RSVP’d to attend a day or two before the event, disgusted at the antics of Congress over the AHCA, hoping that I’d find some way to plug into the movement I can feel coalescing around me.
Indivisible East Bay did an amazing job of putting together the event. The energy was infectious. It was more than just the failure of the Dickensian “replacement” for the ACA, though we pulled strength from that victory. Our voices and applause filled the gym at Laney College. We knew we were part of something, and many of us, like me, were there for the first time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, and our numbers are growing. We have to, as Barbara Lee said, “stay woke, work hard and resist.” She praised us for fighting, graciously…

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Magic for the People

Another binding spell for45–well thought out and researched.

Crown of Stars

In February 2017 a ritual began to circulate on line that was designed to bind Donald John Trump, aka 45, aka any number of names one might wish to ascribe to the individual sworn into the Office of President of the United States in January of 2017, and all those who abet him.

That ritual is posted here: https://extranewsfeed.com/a-spell-to-bind-donald-trump-and-all-those-who-abet-him-february-24th-mass-ritual-51f3d94f62f4#.sfcwqlijo

I, along with others, participated in this magical action on the February New Moon. Following the ritual’s completion there were many conversations about its efficacy and other possible approaches to using magic to stop 45 and his crew from doing harm to the people they are sworn to protect. One idea was to go through the very oath he and his people had already taken and broken. I found this very appealing and set out to craft a ritual from this perspective.

What follows is the Working portion only.

All elements…

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Disposable Values

   This is a little thing, but it’s something I’ve noticed and tried to do something about now that I’m part of a group that runs public events. The sheer amount of garbage that can be generated by one public ritual with food or one potluck in the park is surprising. Once upon a time, when most of the trash was paper or glass, it wasn’t that bad, but now that just about everything comes wrapped in plastic, it’s come time to think about what we’re doing, and what it says about us.
   I don’t want to load more onto the backs of unpaid, overworked organizers of events–I know how hard it is to even pull these things off, let alone think about sustainability in a world that does nothing to make it any easier, not even the simple things like providing drinking fountains and bathrooms with running water in public parks. I get that even getting to a potluck for some requires a quick trip to the store on the way and the choices will rarely be optimum. I don’t want to shame people, I just think we need to think about what we do, why, and how we can begin to make personal and cultural changes. I think it begins with honesty and awareness. When we make a choice, we should own it. No excuses, but no finger-pointing either. We can do more than talk about being connected to each other and the earth, and we can show it by respecting both.
   Now I know it’s a pain for an organizer to shlep a bunch of tableware to an event. I do it myself, and there’s a limit to how much I can bring. So I really appreciate it when people think ahead when they can. Drinking fountains have sadly gone out of fashion, but water bottles are available and could become the in thing for us. Likewise the steel insulated cup. If our personal tableware became as much of a fashion statement as our clothing and jewelry, it could even be fun.
   We run a room at a local Pagan con. We’re new at it, but getting better every year. One of the first things I pack are cloth dish towels, a sponge and a bottle of dish soap. It’s made things a lot easier for us and now I’m wondering if this could be a possible culture change. It’s a whole lot easier to bring washing gear than tableware for fifty, even the disposable kind. If we had ways to wash what we brought, and washing our own eating gear was as natural to us as washing our own hands, the “ick” factor would go way down. What if it became something that spread to the wider culture, like hand sanitizer seems to have? Manufacturers wouldn’t like it much, of course, as they wouldn’t be able to sell as much stuff to us in the form of disposable products, nor would they be able to plaster advertising over quite as many coffee cups, but would that really be such a bad thing? We seem to be adjusting to reusable bags after all. Could we go back to washing our own utensils as a means of knowing that they were really clean instead of needing something brand new every time to assure us of the same thing?
   I know these are big changes. I know there’s very little chance of this becoming a “thing.” I know there’s a very real possibility that no one has even read this far. But if you have, I want to leave you with a concrete example of a place where this kind of awareness worked.
   I worked Renaissance Faire for many years. We all carried tankards, knives and eating gear. Often we brought foods that would be eaten in the time we were portraying. It was part of the fun, and like our clothing it was another way of displaying originality and personality. It was also handy. I didn’t realize just how much easier it was on the land. Faire was, incidentally, the place I was introduced to Paganism. Sleeping on the ground, my eyes adjusting to the rhythms of day and night, I felt part of the time and place we were portraying. Those times and those people are long gone now, but the feelings and the habits remain. They bring me closer to connection.

Druids? In Berkeley?

macrolevel

Sure! You can probably find us anywhere, if you choose to look for us. I did have quite a time finding my way into Druidry, but when walking in the forest, I’ve always tended to take the harder path. It’s usually the most interesting, but there are generally fewer folk on it. I found a few though, and the more fun we have, the more people we seem to meet up with. Are you in the San Francisco Bay Area and interested in what we do? Read on—

East Bay Druids and interested folk in the East Bay have been gathering in Berkeley since around Beltane of 2015. Our next public Beltane ritual will be on April 23rd in Live Oak Park in Berkeley. While the ritual will be Druidic, we’ll be doing the Anglesey Druid Order’s Triskelion ritual, all are welcome, of any spirituality or none whatsoever. We do two gatherings a year, around Beltane and Samhain, and if you want to get on our events mailing list just email us at eastbaydruids@mail.com.

We also gather once a month to do something Druidic, anything from learning a skill to talking about a topic to taking a walk in the woods. We take it in turns to lead a meeting, and here are the next three scheduled offerings:

Anglesey Druid Order Triskelion Ritual
Sunday, April 9th from 12-3PM
We are currently meeting in North Oakland, within walking distance of Ashby BART.  Email eastbaydruids@mail.com for location.

This month’s offering is an introduction to the ADO Triskelion ritual in preparation for our Beltane ritual in Live Oak Park on April 23rd at noon. Erin Rose Conner will be presenting. Three of our members learned this ritual from Kristoffer Hughes. It was created by the Anglesey Druid Order and works with the Realms of Land, Sea, and Sky, rather than the four elements. We’re gauging interest in this form and also looking to train others so you aren’t always looking at the same folk taking the ritual roles, and so we have some people in the circle who know the call and response bits! (hint—a little basic Welsh is involved and easier to pick up than you might think—particularly if we’re all doing it together!) We don’t do anything without translation, and we were complete newbies not very long ago.

Druid Forest Walk
We’ll meet in the Redwood Bowl Staging Area in Oakland near Chabot Space Science Center.
May 14th 10:00 (note the time! Two hours earlier than our usual meeting time!)
Google Maps directions from Skyline Blvd and Joaquin Miller Rd:
https://tinyurl.com/zpreyvr

Our possible destinations include the Fairy Ring, the Redwood Bowl, and the Blossom Rock Navigation Trees.
There are bathrooms and water available at the Redwood Bowl, but water bottles, sunscreen, good walking shoes and clothing for a range of temperatures recommended.
If you can offer a ride or are looking for one, email us at eastbaydruids@mail.com and we’ll try to match you up with someone. It is possible to get there by public transit, AC Transit Line #339 goes to Chabot Space Science Center and #39 goes to Skyline and Joaquin Miller Rd. Email for more detailed directions if you need them.

Talking With Odin at the Hearth
June 11th from 12-3
We are currently meeting in North Oakland, within walking distance of Ashby BART.  Email eastbaydruids@mail.com for location.

Dave Shultz will be reprising his Pantheacon offering Talking With Odin at the Hearth. The World Tree will be involved as well.

We’re always open to new folk, and new presenters. You need not attend every meeting, just the ones that interest you. All Druids of any order or none whatsoever welcome. Consider this a spiritual salon of sorts, on the topic of Druidry.

Emergency Repairs

A damaged bodhran
Back From Ireland

This is how my bodhran came back from Ireland. Yes, we had a good time, and this would have happened eventually, but it is also going to be an adventure returning this instrument to playable condition. I asked around in Dublin as to bodhran repairs and was told that people generally replaced the drum. If this advice had come from a general music store I’d thank them politely and go looking for another opinion, but this had been a little traditional music store where you had to knock to be let in. The experience that followed was a conversation as much as a shopping expedition and the place was filled with traditional instruments of all descriptions, and nothing else. They only sold D and C tin whistles, as that was all session players needed, but no matter. They knew their business and I was out of options.

Closeup of the torn drumhead
An Extremely Temporary Repair

I was playing in a session in a Dublin pub when I stuck my beater through my bodhran head. I slapped cellophane tape over both sides and kept playing. I babied the drum the rest of the trip, but knew in my heart this was it. Back in the ‘90s there was a music store south of San Francisco run by a rennie who could get bodhrans reheaded. My bodhran lost her perfect milky white head, but her voice remained deep and perfect. I didn’t realize how rare that was, or had become, till I tried to get the head repaired the first time it tore. Cody’s was gone by that time. I was afraid of changing this drum’s voice. I’d replaced the head on a cheap bodhran to learn the skill of doing it and while the tone is good enough to make it a good backup drum, it isn’t what I wanted and so when I got home from this latest trip I put my broken drum away.

The back side of the patch in the first photo
A Failing Patch

I knew there was no point in patching the head again, as the skin was so rotten that even a patch with a huge overlap, using the old version of Barge cement (the kind that had enough volatile petroleum distillates to make your head spin, but bonds like a dream), but I was only delaying the inevitable.

A drum and a rim

On Monday I got brave. What’s the point in having a drum I can’t play? I’ve had a good goatskin lying around the front workroom for a few years now. I grabbed some tools and took the head off. That, of course, led to me having a good look at the state of the varnish.

Damaged varnish
Thirty Years of Busking

Knowing that I’d pay for it later, I grabbed a sander and some 220 discs and cleaned up the rim. I’ve had this drum since my teens, and I just didn’t want anyone else to do this job. I’d forgotten how beautiful the inlay work had been when the drum was new.

Sanded drum rim showing the inlay work
Sanded Rim

Four days later and I still hurt from the sanding job. I was hoping I’d bounce back faster, but this is the exact task that disabled me from my deckhand job. It’s worth it. I’ll post the actual reheading job when I get the rim refinished and the new head on.